Monday, October 12, 2015

Christine Pakkala's and Last-But-Not-Least Lola’s October 2015 blog tour

As previously mentioned, Christine Pakkala, author of the LAST-BUT-NOT-LEAST LOLA series went on blog tour early in October to coincide with the release of the new LOLA book, LAST-BUT-NOT-LEAST LOLA AND THE CUPCAKE QUEENS (Boyds Mills Press).

Come along with us on the tour:

First Stop:

On October 5, the Cover2Cover Blog review of LAST-BUT-NOT-LEAST LOLA GOING GREEN (Boyds Mills Press) said, "This was a fun book, Lola is a funny little girl and her problem solving is fun to follow." Read their whole wonderfully fun review!

Second stop:

Oops! We don’t have access to the October 6 KidLit interview yet, but will report about it as soon as we do!

Third stop:

On October 8, the Unleashing Readers blog did a dual teaching/book review. According to Kellee's review, "Each story about Lola’s puts her in more and more situations that readers will be able to connect with" and according to Ricki's, "These kinds of characters are fantastic for young readers because..they allow children to see that they can learn from their mistakes." The 'Teachers’ Tools for Navigation' section offers teachers ideas for activities in the classroom and discussion questions. You'll enjoy this very informative book and teaching review.

Last stop:

On October 9, Mr. Schu's interview with Christine involved a very interesting technique. He started a sentence (in orange) and Christine finished it and added on to it (in black). Here's just one example:

"When I was Lola's age...," said Mr. Schu, and Christine responded, "I I sat in a tree and recorded license plate numbers of passing cars in a little notebook. I was sure I was going to catch a criminal that way."

Clever, isn't it? And doesn't Christine sound just a little bit like Lola in her response?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Eastern Illinois University does a profile of Jan Spivey Gilchrist

Jan Spivey Gilchrist, illustrator of such award-winning books as NATHANIEL TALKING (Writers & Readers), THE GREAT MIGRATION (HarperCollins), IN THE LAND OF WORDS (HarperCollins), WHEN THE HORSES RIDE BY (Lee & Low) and THE FRIENDLY FOUR (HarperCollins) as well as the picture book autobiography written by Oprah Winfrey's "All Time Favorite Guest," Tererai Trent called THE GIRL WHO BURIED HER DREAMS IN A CAN (Viking Penguin), also has four degrees, one of them from Eastern Illinois University, where she got a B.S. in Art Education.
Recently, EIU did a profile on Jan, one that provides a great deal of her early history, her years as a teacher, as well as insight into her drive to continue to create and publish books for children. We hope you enjoy the profile as much as we did.

And after reading it, we believe you’ll find it hard to resist wanting Jan to come to your school to speak to your students. We know Jan would love to come. Just contact Balkin Buddies for more details.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rebecca Behrens, author of WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE, and Gayle Rosengren speak at AASL on November 6, 2015

Rebecca Behrens, author of WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE (Sourcebooks) and THE SUMMER OF LOSTAND FOUND (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster) and Gayle Rosengren, author of WHAT THE MOON SAID and COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET (both Putnam/Penguin Random House), will give a concurrent session presentation at the upcoming AASL (American Association of School Librarians) National Conference & Exhibition, which will be held in Columbus, OH. Their program, entitled "Making It Real," will offer school library media specialists engaging ways to use historical fiction so that students will be prepared for Common Core State Standards. The program will take place on Friday, November 6, 2015 from 11:30 to 12:20 pm in Room C212, followed by autographing in the Author Signing Booth from 1:00-1:30

As mentioned previously, AASL, which is held every two years, is the only national conference devoted solely to the needs of school library media specialists. Rebecca and Gayle are pleased and honored to be presenters.

If you're interested in having one or both of them come to your school to speak to your students prior to their AASL program, please contact Balkin Buddies by phone or email immediately to book them before their flights are booked.

A poem and illustration from Judy Young's SLEEPY SNOOZY COZY COOZY

We couldn't resist posting this excerpt and art from this gorgeous book written by Judy Young and illustrated by Michael F. Shaughnessy.

Illustration from Sleepy Snoozy Cozy Coozy

In the branches of a tree
An eagle sits so worry-free.
He shuts his eyes to get some rest
All comfy in his great big nest.

A sticky twiggy
Very biggy
Round and scratchy
Feathery patchy

Picky pokey
Piney oakey
Place where you won't lay your head

But to an eagle it's a bed.

If you would like Judy to come to your school to talk to your young poets, just visit Judy’s website to learn about her programs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

THE GIRL WHO BURIED HER DREAMS IN A CAN (Penguin), by Oprah Winfrey’s “All-Time Favorite Guest,” Tererai Trent and illustrated by the award winning Jan Spivey Gilchrist is Amazon's Number 1 Hot New Release!

Booklist called this title the "inspiring story of how one person can overcome difficulties and make a difference.”

Amazon's readers are equally ecstatic:

"Dr. Tererai Trent is perhaps one of the most inspiring people on the planet. As a young woman in Africa she decided that she wanted to come to America and study. With no resources apart from her own dreams, she made it happen. This book is based on her own story and is an incredibly inspiring read for young children. Through this book you can teach them how to dream and manifest in the most heartfelt way," said one reader. "My 7 year old daughter loves this book, and so do I. It is so inspirational and will hopefully instill a life-long love of learning, dreaming, and changing the world!" said another.

Dr. Trent already has a huge number of schools lined up for visits. Ms. Gilchrist still has some room on her schedule for interested schools, but she's booking up fast, so if you would like to book her, contact Balkin Buddies as soon as possible!

And please join us in congratulating both author and illustrator on the great success of their book.

Diane Stanley, author of BARD OF AVON, has a special new program for her school visits in honor of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616

The text in the Author’s Note is changed to acknowledge the anniversary

We’ve said it before, but this bears repeating: 

William Shakespeare died circa April 23, 1616 and for the 400th anniversary of his death, Diane Stanley, author of BARD OF AVON: THE STORY OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE(HarperCollins), has a very special new program for her school visits. We present it below, along with descriptions of her other programs. If schools would like more information or would like to book her, just contact Balkin Buddies.


Shakespeare!  In honor of the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616, HarperCollins is issuing a special edition of BARD OF AVON: THE STORY OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. Diane has put together a new school program for the occasion, a slide talk about Shakespeare, his life and his work. The American Library Association and the Folger Shakespeare Library are teaming up to make 2016 “World Shakespeare Year.” In the United States, a copy of the rare First Folio will visit every state, with programs developed to celebrate the event. Diane would love to be a part of yours. (Illustrated with slides of paintings from the book, plus other archival images.)

Genius! What does it mean to be a bona fide genius? This talk explores four remarkable individuals who certainly qualify: ShakespeareLeonardo da VinciMichelangelo, and Mozart. Who were they, and how did their genius play out in their lives? (Illustrated with slides of paintings from her books.)

How a book is made.  From the perspective of an author-illustrator, Diane discusses the research, writing, and editing as well as the sketching, dummying, and painting. There’s also a bit of storytelling: who and what inspired her to become a writer and an artist? (Illustrated with slides of her art and other photos.)

Writing a novel. Where does a writer get her ideas–and once she has them, what the heck does she do with them? An interactive circle talk with older elementary or middle school students about how a writer takes that first flash of inspiration and turns it into a finished, polished story that’s ready for publication. She stresses the importance of editing, developing themes, and being really clear what you’re trying to say.

Diane can customize her talks according to the age of the audience and can accommodate special requests.


She gives three PowerPoint presentations per day. The size of the group doesn’t matter, as long as everyone can hear her and see the screen.


Diane speaks to first grade and up, though she’s happy to visit the kindergarten classroom and say a few words. Presentations for younger students usually last half an hour. Second grade and up are 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the school’s schedule. Interactive programs for older students are best in smaller groups.


Diane is always happy to take questions, sign books, have lunch with the teachers or star readers, or anything else that will make the day exciting for the kids.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A review of Tim J. Myers' new adult title, NECTAR OF STORY: POEMS by the Exterminating Angel Press editor/publisher

Tim Myers' full-length book of poetry for adults called NECTAR OF STORY: POEMS (BlazeVox Press) has a unique format: on one page he briefly retells a story; on the facing page is a poem inspired by that story. The stories are real or imagined, myths and folktales as well as historical or contemporary narratives, and Tim’s poems plumb their depths. Recently a review for NECTAR OF STORY: POEMS appeared on Amazon, and it turned out the reviewer is Tod Davies, Editor and Publisher of Exterminating Angel Press. Ms. Davies has given us permission to share her review. Here it is:

"Full disclosure: although I've never met the author, I've long been an admirer of his work, and even solicited stories from him for our online journal, EAP: The Magazine. As I'm not particularly good at reading poetry, I had somehow overlooked this part of his work. When I idly started reading it though, the hair stood up on the back of my arms--for NECTAR OF STORY is, in the very best way, about all that I know is important in art, in literature, in their true relation to life, which is made up of the stories we tell about ourselves and to ourselves. Looking back to look forward, Tim engages with tales, myths, legends from multiple times and cultures. He describes them beautifully, and then, in poetry, doesn't just reflect on their meaning, but actively engages with them as a force in envisioning a better world now, here, right away.

"This is what art is truly about--or should be. I urge anyone who is fed up with the increasingly constricted discourse of mainstream 'high' art to read this book, ponder it, cherish it, and use it as a tool in imagining your own story, your own ideal way forward. We can only imagine our future if we can remember our past, and in remembering, enrich our present. NECTAR OF STORY does all that and more."

Exterminating Angel Press (EAP) strives to publish books that look at the world in a different way, a goal often shared by the authors of books for children. As you know, Balkin Buddies focuses on children’s books and their authors and illustrators, but if you’d like Tim to speak to adults, he’d be happy to come speak to your group. Also, of course, he’s available to visit schools to talk about his work and do some storytelling. If you'd like to learn more about his programs and availability, just contact Balkin Buddies

Monday, October 5, 2015

M.E. Kerr's EDGE: COLLECTED STORIES gets great review in Booklist

"Kerr's unique characters are not easily left behind," raves the Booklist reviewer of M.E. Kerr's EDGE: COLLECTED STORIES (Open Road Media). Here's the entire review:

Edge: Collected Stories
Kerr, M.E. (Author)
Sep 2015. 172 p. Open Road, paperback, $11.99 (9781504009911). Open Road, e-book, (97815040098980).

Teens will find much in common with the characters in this collection of stories spanning back to 1984. Kerr's finely crafted tales capture both real-life and otherworldly dilemmas in tones both earnest and satirical. The traditional teen love story is turned on its head in "Do You Want My Opinion?" where sex is practically mandatory and sharing one's innermost feelings taboo. Deep questions of inheritance plague the protagonist of "Like Father, Like Son" when a foul-mouthed kid comes to live with a family who doesn't share his proclivities. Perhaps most haunting of all, "I Will Not Think of Maine" addresses the aftermath of love and death. Stories are told with the immediacy of youth but also with a slight cushion of reflection, just enough so that young readers can begin to appreciate the insight that distance brings. Educators should take careful note of this collection, as the issues raised by the resolution of their situations (or lack thereof) will get even the most reluctant readers chatting. Kerr's unique characters are not easily left behind.

                                                                                  ---Erin Downney Howerton